It was a night for the big hitters at Lord’s in the first men’s final of The Hundred. It was billed as a straight shoot out between the tournament’s best bowling attack (Southern Brave) and the cleanest hitters. However, it would be the Brave who held their nerve to win by 32 runs.
Adam Milne had Southern Brave wondering where the next run would come from in the powerplay, bowling a remarkable 12 dot balls with the field up. Quinton de Kock was the man to fall to Milne how beat the South African for pace.
At the end of the powerplay, Southern Brave were 25 for one thanks in part to Paul Stirling – who spent many summers in this part of London – that kept the score moving. However, James Vince struggled to find the form that saw him mentioned for an England call up.
Alex Davies, the busy batsman, eventually joined Stirling. The pair added 50 runs in the space of 29 balls before Stirling’s innings of 61 came to an end, with Chris Benjamin taking a sharp catch to give Benny Howell the important wicket. It was a brutal display of hitting from Stirling; he cleared the ropes six times in total.
It wasn’t the end of the assault on the Phoenix bowling, as Ross Whiteley continued where Stirling left off. A 19 ball cameo milking 44 unbeaten runs for the Brave batter.
The Birmingham Phoenix believe that they can chase any total, and with the likes of Liam Livingstone and Moeen Ali in their ranks, that is a well-founded faith in their batters to chase down whatever is put in front of them.
Brave, on the other hand, have the bowlers to keep the best batsmen in the world quiet. They would need to take early wickets – and they did just that.
David Bedingham, who was dismissed without scoring in Thursday’s Royal London Cup final, was at it again today but it took a spectacular low catch from Tim David.
Will Smeed, who had been one of the reasons Phoenix had started well in their run to the final, was heading back to the pavilion shortly after, and Livingston and Ali would have to rebuild. That’s not an easy job when you are chasing down a stiff target.
While they were there, though, the Phoenix pair believed that it would be their night. They added 56 in a 34 ball period, and they were starting to up the ante. Two a ball looked well within their grasp.
It was the fielding of David, however, that would be the undoing of Livingstone. Coming back for a second, he failed in getting over the crease, and David with a bullet throw made a direct hit, dislodging the stumps.
Another twenty minutes of Livingstone with the bat in hand would have got Phoenix close. Still, with him gone and Ali not able to hit Jake Lintott out of the park – and to be caught by Craig Overton for 36 – the innings faltered.
The Phoenix lower order gave the Southern Braves little concern after that, even though Benjamin (23) and Howell (20) were both unbeaten at the end.
Both teams served up some entertaining cricket over the past month, and while the final could have been closer, it was a fitting end to an intense tournament of cricket.